Global initiatives: Middle East – Women in Business (WIB) initiative
On International Women's Day 2010, PwC Middle East announced the launch of its Women in Business (WIB) initiative. The goal is to attract, develop and retain women in the Middle East as PwC views women as a critical talent group to enable the firm to continue its growth in the marketplace and to deliver the best in client solutions. The approach is to drive activities through connecting with the following four groups:
- Women to (other PwC) Women – Internal Focus;
- Women to (PwC) Leadership – Internal Focus;
- Women to Clients (current and future) – External Focus; and
- Women to Community – Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR).
Globally, women face a number of challenges which impact their success in the workplace. In the Middle East there is a diverse international women community facing similar challenges. The Middle East WIB initiative was established to address these challenges, some of which include:
- Gender-based stereotyping;
- Preconceptions of women’s roles and abilities;
- Exclusion from informal networks;
- Lack of role models and mentoring;
- Commitment to personal and family responsibilities;
- Failure of leadership to assume accountability for women’s advancement; and
- Ethnicity issues and HR policies.
A recent report, done by PwC on behalf of the Dubai Women's Establishment, stated that nothing propels women to leadership roles more than their passion, focus and sheer determination. Their passion is not just about their career path but is brought to bear in other parts of their life, including the desire to encourage the next generation of women to strive for success. In the last few years, a significant number of women in the Middle East have reached positions of influence in business, politics, civil society, academia and the media. As a result of their success, they have not only been able to impact the industries in which they work, but have also had an important impact on the Middle East region as a whole.
Today’s successful Middle East women leaders are working in government, finance, manufacturing, and some are true entrepreneurs who have started their own companies. It is a testament to their achievements that some of these women are now becoming part of the exclusive – and previously elusive – lists in prestigious publications, including Forbes International, Forbes Arabia and Arabian Business. It is clear that women leaders in the Middle East are becoming more visible and their influence is felt across many sectors of business, despite the fact that they continue to represent a small minority in society. Yet this minority increasingly punches above its weight, and these women leaders act as role models and agents for change in the Middle East.